March is here, we’ve been treated to a mild winter and spring is peeking over the horizon. March’s unpredictable weather means there’ll no doubt still be the odd day of slushy snow and a bite in the air but things look to be on the up.
There’s so much going on in Chicago, from unique dining experiences and spellbinding concerts to an array of extraordinary exhibitions. So without further ado here are our top events and things to do in Chicago this March!
1. Marvel at the magical spring Chicagohenge spectacle
Of all the events to look forward to this month, one of our favorites is certainly the spring equinox and the resulting Chicagohenge. The bi-annual event occurs for the spring and fall equinoxes. Dubbed ‘Chicagohenge’ after the famous prehistoric boulder formation in England, the astrological phenomenon sees the magic of nature and Chicago’s glorious architecture collaborate harmoniously to put on a breathtaking spectacle that people from all over come to witness.
Because Chicago was built on a grid system with streets lining up near perfectly on compass north to south and east to west, the sun lines up directly with Chicago’s east-west facing streets and beams down the heart of the city splashing through Chicago’s artificial valleys.
Find out more about where and when to best experience this spring’s Chicagohenge here.
2. Check out Chicago’s Harry Potter experience
Another magical experience can be had at Chicago’s massive Harry Potter™: Magic at Play experience. Taking over three floors at the Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue, guests of all ages can interact, explore, play, and climb their way through the most iconic moments at Hogwarts™.
Don’t miss this magical adventure for wizards, witches, and even muggles (gasp!)—Accio tickets!
3. Watch the Chicago River turn green for St Patrick’s Day
Of course, if there’s one event that dominates the headlines in March it’s Chicago’s iconic St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. With a historically large Irish population in our diverse and wonderful city, it’s no surprise Chicago’s usual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are of international renown.
This year the river dying, which dates back to 1962 will take place on Saturday, March 11. Starting at 10:00 am, the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 will once again turn the river emerald green using a vegetable-based and environmentally friendly dye.
For the very best views head to the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge or the west side of the Columbus Drive bridge. Alternatively, anywhere on the Riverwalk between State Street and Columbus Drive also offers a great viewpoint of the dyed river.
Marching bands, bagpipes, dancers, and the whole explosion of green will be found around the Loop as well as Chicago’s South and Northwest Side for the City of Chicago’s 2023 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
More information can be found here.
4. Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade
After the river dyeing has commenced, the weekend is all about the parades and marches that take place across Chicago. This is another must-do activity if you’re looking to embrace the jubilance of St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago.
This year the city of Chicago will host its annual official St. Patrick’s Day parade from around 12:30 pm on Saturday, March 11. The parade will follow its usual route up Columbus Drive starting at Balbo Drive around 12:30 and finishing at Monroe Street.
The historic South Side Irish parades will then take place on Saturday, March 12, from noon onwards and will set off from 103rd Street and Western Avenue and proceed south along Western Avenue to 115th Street.
The Northwest Side Irish Parade will set off from William J. Onahan School, 6634 W. Raven St., on Sunday, March 13 at noon and proceed along N. Neola Avenue to N. Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue while the South Side Irish Parade will set off from 103rd Street and Western Avenue and proceed south along Western Avenue to 115th Street.
More information can be found at chicagostpatricksdayparade.org.
5. Check out Chicago’s most over-the-top St. Patrick’s Day pop-up bar
If you’re a fan of pop-ups, particularly when they go all the way with decor and themed food and drinks, we’ve got the place for you. You’re guaranteed to find all of that and more at Wrigleyville’s Charm’d (aka The Magical Irish Pop-Up) where an enchanting, multi-level, over-the-top, experience awaits.
Deuce’s Major League Bar has once again been decked out head-to-toe and wall-to-wall with an exorbitant amount of St. Patrick’s Day decorations for its annual Charm’d pop up experience.
Guests can expect a spectacular explosion of Irish decor spread across multiple bars as well as social photo-ops and an equally impressive array of extraordinary themed drinks and snacks that make up a sublime St. Patrick’s Day menu.
More information can be found here.
6. Immerse yourself in The Art of the Future at Holographic Art Gallery
Another incredible activity can be found down at Navy Pier. Verse: The Art of the Future fuses art and technology allowing guests to step right into the metaverse in a digital art exhibition featuring augmented reality holograms and artwork by top-selling artists from the burgeoning world of NFTs.
With the help of an AR headset, smartphone, or tablet, each guest will experience their own reality in the same activation area (like a silent disco for holograms!). Verse provides an introduction to the people, technology, and stories that are shaping this disruptive evolution of the art world.
Get your tickets for Verse: The Art of the Future in Chicago here!
7. Send your senses soaring with a Dining in the Dark experience
At the end of this month, Dining in the Dark experiences will be returning to Chicago and they’re selling out quickly. Engage your taste buds at a unique night out as you indulge in a delicious three-course meal at the exclusive ‘Dining in The Dark’ dinner parties.
Take your date night to the next level or enjoy a surreal experience with friends, tempting your senses with dark surroundings to focus on more important things like the exquisite food and wine pairing you’re about to have at Hubbard Inn.
Diners can choose vegan, seafood, or red meat options, enjoying a starter, main entree, and dessert.
Grab tickets to a Dining in the Dark experience here.
8-12. Be captivated by a Candlelight Concert
Chicago’s sublime Candlelight Concert series is providing an array of breathtaking spectacles in the Windy City. Talented musicians will be performing at extraordinary venues all over Chicago offering guests the chance to marvel at the enchanting combination of flickering candles and melodic sounds.
Here are some of our favorite Candlelight concerts taking place this month:
- Candlelight: A Tribute to Queen and More at Oak Park Arts Center on March 5
- Candlelight: A Tribute to ABBA at Stan Mansion on March 8
- Candlelight: The Best of Hans Zimmer at Music Box Theatre on March 23
- Candlelight Flamenco: A Journey Through Spain at Free Church on March 24
- 112786 – Candlelight: A Tribute to Juan Gabriel at Salvage One on March 30
See the full list of candlelight concerts taking place in Chicago here.
If you can’t decide on a concert but want to ensure you attend one or need to buy a gift for somebody special Candlelight gift cards are really easy to use and valid for any Candlelight event in the U.S. making it a unique gift for both friends and family.
Get your Candlelight Gift Card here.
13. Revel in the mayhem of The Roar: A Prohibition Era Speakeasy
If the year 2023 feels like you’ve shot into the future and has you recalling your bygone days, go back in time to Chicago’s Prohibition Era at The Roar on Rush!
A lively Speakeasy that lights the way to a hidden 4-room cocktail experience where you will meet vibrant figures from the elaborate web of a Roaring Twenties bootlegging operation. Each room tells a story and is paired with a cocktail tasting from Prohibition times.
Afterwards, take a seat in the speakeasy for more cocktails, food, and live music with special performances. Break out your best flapper dresses and linen jackets, this cocktail party at The Roar is not to be missed!
14-15. Head down to the Grand Cabaret After Dark speakeasy
Of course, The Roar speakeasy is far from the only speakeasy experience in Chicago. Down in the basement of West Loop’s Porkchop visitors will find another stellar speakeasy experience in the form of “Grand Cabaret After Dark” where a roster of rip-roaring revelry is waiting.
There is always something happening at the West Loop speakeasy throughout the weekend. Featuring live music of classic and contemporary jazz, bluegrass, and country by the Chris Ussery Trio, you’ll be able to sink into your seat as the music swirls around you on Saturdays at Grand Cabaret After Dark and then soothe your Sunday scaries with Boozy BBQ Drag Brunches on Sundays.
Check out all the chaos going on at Porkchop’s Grand Cabaret After Dark here!
16. The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody
Let us deliver you to the dark side! With comedy and allure, loving detail, and hilarious parody, The Empire Strips Back drops classic Star Wars characters into the world of burlesque. Be prepared for some seriously sultry Stormtroopers, a dangerously enticing Boba Fett, some tantalizing Twi’leks, a delightfully luke-warm Taun Taun, a lady-like Skywalker, the Droids you are looking for, and much, much more!
Grab tickets to The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody here.
17. Kick back in an AMC movie theatre
Talking of critically-acclaimed movies, The Oscars will be announced this month with so many fantastic movies of all kinds from across the planet highlighted. There are so many to see at the moment and there’s no place better to experience them than at AMC Theatres®.
Whether it’s a rainy afternoon or a special date night, all the best critically-acclaimed creations, comedies, action flicks, and everything in between can be enjoyed at a discount in Chicago, and nationally, with an AMC black ticket.
Grab discounted tickets to a movie showing here.
18. Enjoy some of the extraordinary exhibitions taking place in Chicago this year
One of Chicago’s most impressive qualities is undeniably its collection of world-class museums and the array of exhibits they offer. This year there are a whole host of new extraordinary art exhibits coming to the Windy City.
Art, science, and human connection have a truly transformative power, and now, after the tumultuous and unprecedented years that we’ve just endured, it’s time to remember that.
Here are some of the most unique exhibitions taking place in Chicago this year that you simply cannot miss.
19. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago for free
One of the oldest and largest art museums in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago is undoubtedly one of the city’s most renowned museums. Since its founding in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago has flourished into one of the most recognized art museums on the planet.
The museum is permanently home to over 300,000 works of art including such pieces as American Gothic by Grant Wood, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, The Bedroom, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh and The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso.
This winter Illinois residents can see these historic masterpieces, and much more, completely free on Mondays, Thursdays, & Fridays through Friday, March 24th.
More information can be found here.
20. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry for free
Yet another superlative museum, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (aka MSI) holds the title of the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest science museums in the world.
Offering a focus on the future of science and science education it has enthralled and entertained nearly 200 million people since opening in 1933. The museum is home to over 2,000 exhibits displayed across 75 major halls including a range of unique interactive experiences for those who enjoy a more physically engaging museum outing.
A full-size replica coal mine, a German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, the first diesel-powered streamlined passenger train, and the command module of Apollo 8 are some of the incredible permanent residents of the MSI.
The museum will be free on March 1, March 6, and March 14.More information can be found here.
21. See a spring flower show
Spring flower shows have already begun at both Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory.
At the former visitors are offered a peek into the wondrous relationship between bees and blooms at the Garfield Park Conservatory’s 2023 Spring Flower Show “Bee’s Knees” which is open through May 14, 2023.
“Beautiful blooming spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth will be featured this year alongside hydrangeas, delphiniums, azaleas, and more. Empty observation and demo hives from GPC’s beekeeping program are set amongst the blooms, giving a glimpse into the world of a bee” reads the conservatory’s website.
The Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show, “Cooler by the Lake” meanwhile invites visitors to peruse a range of flowers in cool marine color tones alongside features familiar to Chicago’s Lakefront, like the iconic Chicago Harbor Lighthouse and boats that have sailed into the conservatory.
22. Attend the Brewsology Beer Festival at the Museum of Science and Industry
This March 4th, head to the Hyde Park museum for a brew fest unlike any other. The Brewsology Beer Fest seeks to combine the nostalgic excitement of a middle school field trip with an adult after-hours beer-fueled spin.
With ample beer samples to be had, this event, which goes from 6 pm to 11 pm is the perfect time to explore the exhibits with a great brew in hand– just hope it isn’t like Night at the Museum. General admission is $50 and VIP is $90.
More information can be found here.
23. Head out to Rosemont for the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention
This March 17-19th, the annual convention celebrating body art is back and better than ever, filling up the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL with endless tattoo enthusiasts.
Whether you’re planning to add to your collection or just looking to learn about the craft, this exciting weekend event definitely adds a splash of vibrant ink to your plans! One-day passes are $25 while three day goes for $50.
Learn more about the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention here.
24. Fandom out at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo
Gear up for one of the biggest pop culture conventions in the state as the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo returns to the city this March.
Taking place towards the end of the month from March 31st to April 2nd, this exciting event returns to McCormick Place once again with superfans in mind. This year, guests include the likes of Tom Welling, Matt Lanter, Chris Evans, and other surprise features!
More information can be found here.
25. Support the Chicago Chefs Cook for Earthquake Relief this month
Chicago chefs are coming together to raise money for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria. Join them on March 20th as the Chicago culinary community gathers to raise money for World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that works to provide meals to those impacted by disasters.
Attendees can sample food from popular restaurants like Avil, Reunion, and many more with tickets starting at $125.
Find out more about the earthquake relief event here.
26. Taste test wine at Uncorked: Chicago Wine Fest
Head over to the Museum of Science and Industry on March 25th for a decadent night of wine tasting at the 3rd annual festival.
With over 100 wines to sample and a DJ spinning tunes, this after-hours 21+ event is sure to leave you with a wine-stained mouth. General admission is currently $70.
Learn more about Uncorked: Chicago Wine Fest here.
27. Go to the last Stout Fest at Goose Island Clybourn brewery
Don’t worry, this annual festival isn’t ending– it’s just relocating to the Salt Shed next year. Spend $70 to attend the festival on March 19 and sample from over 25 different breweries! You can even vote on your favorite to help determine a winner.More information can be found here.
28. Sneak into a fabulous Chicago speakeasy this month
Speakeasies were a huge part of Chicago’s past and remain popular even today. These hidden gems harken back to the Prohibition Era. While modern speakeasies aren’t nearly as secret, they’re still a fun throwback to the 1920s.
Check out the numerous cool Chicago spots in our roundup of the best speakeasies in Chicago here.
29.Grab donuts at the new Donut Dudes shop
Donut Dudes recently opened its doors over on Kedzie Avenue bringing their delectable donuts to Chicago for the first time. With innovative, playful flavors like cookie monster, cosmic brownie, and more, the small shop is sure to be a hit.
30. Treat yourself to a brunch
Whether you’re in need of an instant mood boost, searching for a group Sunday Funday activity, or looking to cure a hangover from the night before, brunch is the solution to all problems. Luckily Chicago has an abundance of seriously good morning eats and here we’ve compiled the best of the bunch.
Find our list of the best brunch spots in Chicago here.
31. Sample the best cocktails in Chicago
Whether you’re treating yourself to brunch in Chicago, kicking back on a Chicago patio, or enjoying drinks out at one of Chicago’s many bars and restaurants, you can be sure a finely-crafted cocktail is only seconds away.
From top-notch margaritas to more innovative cocktail concoctions and everything in between, the Windy City and its abundance of revered mixologists have the answers to whatever it is you’re after.
We’ve recently filtered through the noise to round up the very best cocktail bars in Chicago based on our own experiences at Secret Chicago, our reader’s most popular choices, and a scrupulous assessment of settings and drinks quality
Find our up-to-date list of the very best cocktail bars in Chicago here.
32. Chuckle away at Chicago comedy show
We could all do with a chuckle after the tumultuous last few years and luckily there’s no place better for that than at a Chicago comedy show.
At Laugh Factory Chicago some of today’s biggest names and local comedians are delivering something for every taste and style throughout the year.
Grab tickets to a show at Laugh Factory Chicago here.
33. Buckel up for a Drunk Shakespeare show
Another brilliant Chicago experience comes in the form of a live Drunk Shakespeare show.
Taking place on a stage in a hidden speakeasy located behind the Chicago Theater, guests will find a glam cocktail bar and library with over 10,000 books. Five classically-trained actors meet as members of “The Drunk Shakespeare Society”. One of them has had at least 5 shots of whiskey and then they (quite over-confidently) attempt to perform a major role in a Shakespearean play!
Hilarity and mayhem ensue while the four sober actors try and keep the script on track. Every show is different depending on who is drinking… and what they’re drinking!
Grab tickets to a Drunk Shakespeare show here.
34. Peruse the magnificent street art murals of Chicago
Chicago’s street art and graffiti scene has continued to thrive in Chicago over the last decade. New pieces pop up all over the city every week, some of which are so esteemed that they’ve embedded themselves in the very fabric of Chicago and are now part and parcel of the Windy City’s identity.
Today murals do more than just provide an extraordinary spectacle for our eyes. They pay homage to icons, fight for racial equality, celebrate different heritages, and honor the essential workers of our societies during turbulent times. Hunting down the must-see street art murals in Chicago is a rewarding experience any time of the year.
We’ve rounded up our top 25 most amazing murals in Chicago so you can navigate your way around the best of the best and learn about its history and the inspiration behind some of Chicago’s famous murals. Alternatively, you can jump on an Offbeat Street Art Tour of Chicago and be guided by a seasoned street art enthusiast!
35-36. Savor sensational food samples on a food tour
For foodies who prefer to sample tasty delicacies over perusing extraordinary street art, there is a range of fantastic food tours for all manner of foodies.
Taste all of Chicago’s classic eats on a four-hour guided bicycle tour courtesy of America’s longest-running city bicycle tour company with Bikes, Bites, and Brews: Chicago’s Signature Dishes Bike Tour. The journey is 14 miles in total (traversed at a nice leisurely pace) and includes a slice of deep-dish pizza, a gourmet brownie, a Chicago-style hot dog, and a few samples of Chicago’s legendary craft beer!
Despite having a kaleidoscopic food scene offering all manner of savory and sweet treats, nothing in Chicago has truly celebrated donuts in all their glory, until now. The Underground Donut Tour is Chicago’s first-ever donut tour and was born to give those who truly enjoy donuts the perfect excuse to sample the Windy City’s very best. Tours include such favorites as Do-Rite Donuts, Firecakes, Stans, and Doughnut Vault as well as some lesser-known spots.
Grab tickets to the Bikes, Bites, and Brews tour here or a donut tour here.
37. Jump into spring with indoor skydiving
With every new year comes new dreams, new objectives, and fresh New Year’s resolutions. Of course; diets, workouts, quitting smoking, and the usual suspects will again be encouraged even more so after the turbulent years we’ve had. Recent years also reminded us that we should be active, try new things, and make the most of the adventures and experiences that are available to us. One thing that always finds itself on bucket lists worldwide is skydiving.
Now, we’re not saying jump out of a plane in the freezing skies above Chicago, but we are saying give it a go in one of Chicago’s indoor centers to get a taste of what it is like and why it is such a popular ‘do before you die’ activity. With a state-of-the-art iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Lincoln Park and another iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Rosemont, Chicago is home to two conveniently located cutting-edge centers where kids and adults can get the same sensation you’d get 12,000 feet up in the sky.
If the experience has you wanting more you can always test your vertigo above Chicago’s skyscrapers at one of the world’s largest skydiving resorts in Skydive Chicago and boast that you’ve jumped out of a plane above the Windy City.
38. Head out of the city and see Illinois’ natural spectacles
Of course, heading out into the wilderness is another way you can do something memorable without paying more than the cost of travel. If you’re one who enjoys being surrounded by nature then heading out to the quiet of Illinois’ natural beauty is a great experience whatever the season.
Though our state may not boast wonders with the universal magnitude of the Grand Canyon nor the grandiose reputation of Niagra Falls, Illinois is teeming with diverse ecological landscapes that transform into incredible winter wonderlands this time of the year. From monolithic marvels covered in snow to cascading waterfalls frozen in time, here are 7 natural wonders of Illinois that you can visit while they’re a different beast in winter:
- Garden Of The Gods: Saline County
- Wildcat Canyon In Starved Rock State Park: La Salle County
- Cache River State Natural Area: Johnson County
- Cave-In-Rock: Hardin County
- The Pomona Natural Bridge: Jackson County
- Cascade Falls In Matthiessen State Park: La Salle County
- Bork Falls In Ferne Clyffe State Park: Johnson County
39. Stay in a Starved Rock Getaway cabin
For an even more prolonged experience in nature. Getaway House is a chain of tiny cabin hideaways helping people in big, bustling cities like Chicago, DC, LA and NYC, disconnect from their busy city lives with restorative stays in the middle of nature.
One of the aforementioned spots, Starved Rock State Park, has just opened a selection of minimalistic cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing guests to wake up fully immersed in the wilderness. Located in lush landscapes and with minimalistic yet comfortable designs, they offer the perfect escape for those wanting to disconnect from busy city lives with restorative stays in the middle of nature.
More information can be found here.
40. Warm up and revitalize at Chicago’s most unique spas
It’s around this time of the year that we need anything to lift our minds, bodies, and souls as we get through the last stretch of winter.
With Chicago’s unforgiving frostiness, you’ve got to take your well-being into consideration during these hostile months, especially if you’re spending time outdoors exploring nature or doing extreme sports.
Luckily Chicago is full of answers to combat both the Christmas chaos and the numbing chill that settles into your bones. There’s no better place to relax and unwind during these hostile months than at Chicago’s many serene spas and bathhouses.
From places like River North’s lavish AIRE Ancient Baths inspired by the traditional Roman, Greek, and Ottoman ancient experience of bathing to the unique PIVA Beer Spa offering huge larch wooden tubs filled with near 100-degree beer, herbs, and hops there are so many options in Chicago.
Head to our Secret Chicago list of Chicago’s best spas where you can for an informative breakdown of where to warm up and revitalize this winter.
[Featured image from Shutterstock]